To Be or Not To Be: No Passive Voice!

shakespeareThis may be a noble question for Shakespeare but not for newsletters!

The passive voice, often written with a “to be” verb, is great for business, science and other mundane prose. For the quick and informative newsletter, however, it is flat and confusing.

What makes a sentence passive rather than active?

Grammatically speaking, passive voice eliminates the subject and emphasizes the receiver. For example: “The book will be read to the children.”

How boring! How confusing! Who is doing the reading?

Let’s give this sentence some interest and emotion. Let’s give it a subject! Let’s write: “The father will read the book to his children.”

Technically, the passive voice is not incorrect or without purpose—we just use it far too often. Check your newsletter articles. Vary your sentence structure and keep the passive voice to a minimum.

Leave the “to be’s” for Shakespeare!

This posting is taken from the Reaching Readability newsletter by Adunate Word & Design (who, by the way, is me!)


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